I've seriously wanted a Rhino for several years. I ran across a picture of it, thought, "Whoa!" and immediately emailed the guy whose pic had hipped me to it. Best I can tell, it debuted at a European gun show; Security Arms says it first appeared at the EXA show in 2003, which makes sense because the designer, Emilio Ghisoni, is Italian. And, to judge from his designs, a very weird cat.
Consider Ghisoni's first landmark design, the Mateba MTR-8. Most revolvers (as in, EVERY ONE YOU WILL EVER SEE) have the cylinder above the trigger, and fire from the topmost chamber, i.e., the round in the uppermost chamber is the one that comes out of the gun. (Note for non-gunnies: a revolver is a gun like the Colt on SUPERNATURAL, or Dirty Harry's .44 Magnum, with a cylinder that rotates about a central axis. The cylinder has several chambers. You put a cartridge in each one and close the cylinder. As you cock and fire the gun, the cylinder rotates, bringing a new cartridge into firing position.) Ghisoni figured that the bullet firing from so high above the hand contributed to recoil issues, and decided the best way to handle this was to lower the firing cylinder, which he did by putting the cylinder in *front* of the trigger. Thus:
No, you haven't gone cross-eyed; that's what it looks like.
Ghisoni designed the MTR-8 for competition shooting, which is weird to me because looking at it I immediately think that sucker's going to be hella front-heavy, even if you're only firing .22LR (of which it held 14 rounds). But then, I'm not an Italian madman.
If you doubt that appellation is appropriate for Ghisoni, consider what happened after this. He went back into the workshop. Okay, (I'm guessing) he figured, putting the cylinder in front of the trigger may not be the way to go. But the idea of lowering the firing cylinder to reduce recoil still called to him, so he figured that maybe what he ought to do was turn the action upside down and make a revolver that fired from the *bottom* chamber. Then, because he was a madman, he decided that as long as he was at it, he should really update the concept of the automatic revolver. Because why not.
So he made the Mateba Model 6 Unica:
And now a lot of people are thinking, "an automatic revolver? wait, what? Isn't that an oxymoron?" And it is! But not here. Here's the skinny, for non-gunnies: revolvers work in one of two ways. In a single-action revolver, pulling the trigger does one thing: it fires the gun. It doesn't raise the hammer, it doesn't rotate the cylinder. If you want to rotate the cylinder to a fresh cartridge, you have to manually cock the gun's hammer. In a double-action revolver, you don't have to cock it with your thumb before you fire. You pull the trigger, which cocks the hammer and rotates the cylinder and fires the gun. Accordingly, a double-action revolver has a tougher trigger-pull than a single action. Make sense? Okay, here's where the automatic revolver comes in: some bright boy named Colonel George Fosbery got the idea that, since automatic and semi-automatic firearms use the gas explosion of a gunshot to cycle their action, ejecting a spent cartridge case and loading a fresh round into the gun's chamber from the magazine, *you ought to be able to do something like that with a revolver, too.* Basically, you can think of the automatic revolver as a single-action revolver that cocks itself.
I have no idea why anybody would want this.
(Colonel Fosbery, okay -- he patented the thing in 1895, when folks were trying to figure out the semi-auto handgun. Emilio Ghisoni came out with his in *1997.* What the hell is his excuse?)
If you think the Mateba Model 6 Unica looks familiar, you might have seen one on TV, being toted by this here gentleman:
Yep, the hero of Canton, the man they call Jayne. The Model 6 Unica looks so weird and futuristic, it fits into a skiffy show *with no alterations whatsoever.*
Anyway, so Emilio Ghisoni went back to the drawing board again, and he came up with the Rhino. Which fires from the bottom cylinder (WEIRDO), but is a perfectly respectable double-action revolver in all other respects. Chiappas licensed the rights to produce them. They're hard to get; I asked my dealer about it first maybe a year ago, and then put in a dedicated order months back, but they're evidently not that common on the ground. The snubnose was first out. It seemed too big for a snubby carry piece for me, but the company touted what it claimed were some carry-oriented features (the flat-sided cylinder is advertised as being more comfortable, for example). I wanted a longer barrel, anyway, for target shooting, so I got the five-inch. (Yes, if you are near me and interested you are all welcome to handle my five-inch Rhino.)
I work overseas and had to leave immediately after the purchase, so I haven't had a chance to shoot it yet. Will report when I do. The grips look nicer than they feel; the gun is unfortunately front-heavy, and the grips don't help balance it out. Hogue is reportedly making some grips for the Rhino, and I might try those when they're available. But it's a nifty little thing, anyway.
Originally posted on my DW. | people have commented there. | Do so yourself, if you like.